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Alyn's youth football module is backed by Inverness Caledonian Thistle


By Will Clark

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Thurso Football Academy's head of coaching Alyn Gunn (centre) with Caley Thistle's sporting director John Robertson (left) and head coach Billy Dodds. Picture: James Mackenzie
Thurso Football Academy's head of coaching Alyn Gunn (centre) with Caley Thistle's sporting director John Robertson (left) and head coach Billy Dodds. Picture: James Mackenzie

Inverness Caledonian Thistle have given their support to a youth football module designed by Thurso Football Academy's head of coaching Alyn Gunn to raise awareness of mental health issues among high school youngsters.

The initiative seeks to put over the importance of a child’s wellbeing. As well as discussing mental health issues, it goes into what to do if a cardiac arrest occurs and gives youngsters the opportunity to gain coaching experience.

The module also explains some of the academy’s training drills to show what each session tries to achieve.

The free e-learning courses are open to people of any age.

"I am delighted to be able to put this together for the kids of the Highlands," Alyn said.

"When I first started coaching at 14, there was nothing like this in place so the youngsters will now have a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge on three-life critical subjects and also obtain practical coaching experience.

“I hope to speak with the high schools in August to get the ball rolling.”

Caley Thistle sporting director John Robertson says the module deals with a vital issue.

“The club is delighted to support Alyn with this initiative," he said. "Promoting the importance of good mental health through schools in the Highlands is a fantastic idea.

“I’ve recently become an ambassador for the local mental health charity Mikeysline – that’s something myself and the club are proud of.

“We would urge anyone struggling with their mental health to seek the appropriate help, speak to someone they trust and don’t suffer in silence. It’s okay not to be okay.”

Caley Thistle's sporting director John Robertson (left) with Thurso Football Academy's head of coaching Alyn Gunn at Caledonian Stadium. Picture: James Mackenzie
Caley Thistle's sporting director John Robertson (left) with Thurso Football Academy's head of coaching Alyn Gunn at Caledonian Stadium. Picture: James Mackenzie

High Life Highland active schools co-ordinator Juvenal Dufaur said: “Pupils will be helped on how to gain experience and attend training courses via the Scottish FA and UK Coaching.”

Alyn added: "I sat with Scot Gardiner [Caley Thistle chief executive officer] and John Robertson in a meeting at Caledonian Stadium last Friday and explained the module to them both. They were fully supportive of what we will try to achieve, and what we will offer.

"Billy Dodds [head coach] was delighted to support the academy with the project, and mentioned that if it helps only one person its mission will be complete.

"The help that High Life Highland will provide going forward will be invaluable. Its leadership programme is not only designed to encourage youngsters to take part in coaching and volunteering in football, it's for all sports – so, if football is not the youngsters' thing, there are other options available.

"With the online courses being certified via the Scottish Football Association and UK Coaching it will give the youngsters a great platform going forward with their personal and coaching pathways."

Robert Hughes, owner/managing director of ArmourFlex Sports, said: "I am very impressed with the good work that Alyn Gunn and his team of coaches at Thurso Football Academy have done to date. The innovative ideas and programmes they put out are amazing.

"What they have given back to their community, and especially to the kids at grassroots football level, is highly commendable and may they continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

"We are 100 per cent supportive of their initiatives and we wish Alyn and his team at Thurso Football Academy all the very best."

Bazookagoal UK manager Mike Melvin said: "We are delighted to support Thurso Football Academy with this project. Keep up the great work."


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